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Albanian Prime Minister urges NATO to boost the quantity of peacekeepers in Kosovo

Albanian Prime Minister urges NATO to boost the quantity of peacekeepers in Kosovo Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama (Photo: GettyImages)

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama urged NATO to enhance its military presence in Kosovo and fortify the country's border with Serbia, according to AP.

During an informal meeting of NATO and Western Balkan members in North Macedonia, Rama warned about the potential for the recent ethnic violence in Kosovo to trigger a wider Balkan conflict.

Additionally, he stated that Serbia's border with Kosovo is out of control and is being utilized for various illegal activities, such as drug and weapons smuggling, and infiltration by ultranationalists. Rama emphasized that such activities could cause "major unrest" in the region.

There are concerns among Western countries that Russia may attempt to incite unrest in the Balkans as violence has occurred twice in the area recently. This is seen as a potential tactic to divert attention away from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Stoltenberg's trip to the Balkans

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who attended the Skopje meeting, emphasized that the Alliance does not perceive any military threat to its Western Balkan allies.

“But what we do see is an increase in tensions, especially in Kosovo,” Stoltenberg said.

During a November 20 visit to Kosovo, Stoltenberg announced that NATO is deliberating on sending more peacekeeping troops to the area.

Unrest in Kosovo

Approximately 50,000 ethnic Serbs reside in the northern municipalities of the country. Midterm mayoral elections were held in these areas during late spring, but the local Serbs neglected to vote. As a result, ethnic Albanians won, sparking extensive rioting and conflicts between Serbs and Kosovo police.

In response, the Serbian president ordered the immediate deployment of the army into the neighboring country and NATO deployed peacekeepers to the region, resulting in roughly one hundred Alliance casualties. The number of NATO troops in the region was subsequently raised to 4,500.

Additionally, on September 24, 2023, conflict erupted in Kosovo between the police and an unidentified group of armed individuals. Kosovo's Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, declared a military operation against the group of at least 30 armed men. The Serbian side denied any involvement in the incident.

This occurrence caused a significant escalation of tensions in Kosovo. NATO deployed more troops to the region, and Western countries urged Serbia to exercise restraint.